Christians Wary About Muslim Brotherhood Leadership in Egypt

(Mohammed Abu Zaid/AP)Saad el-Katatni, secretary general for the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party (right) attends a press conference.

Muslim Brotherhood secretary-general, Mohamed Saad al Katatni, will be installed as speaker of Egypt's newly-elected lower house of parliament as agreed on Monday.

The lower house, known as the People's Assembly, is the most important body in Egypt's bicameral system and its main task will be to pick a 100-person commission to write a new constitution, while preparations take place for presidential elections scheduled for June.

In the new parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood-led alliance won more than 45 percent of the 498 parliament seats. A more radical Islamist movement, the extremest Salafists' al Nour Party, which follows the strict Wahhabi doctrine of Islam and opposes equality with non-muslims, won another 25 percent.

Now many Christians and moderates fear that with an Islamist speaker and Islamist majority in the parliament, they will use its power to base the constitution on Sharia law, which will greatly restrict the rights of non-Muslims. For many the selection of el-Katatni already showed the power of the Islamists to influence the process.

 "The power of the article in the constitution often depends on where it's placed. Currently, article one is about citizenship and equality, while article two is about the Islamic religion. That will soon change," Wagih Yacoub, a Coptic human rights activists told ICC. "The Salafists are talking about banning alcohol and monitoring tourism. They're going to take the country toward a very dark time. We're going backwards; we're not going forward at all…Some Christians will leave the country, some will stand up, and some will leave it as it is, trusting in God."

Also Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, predicts that in Egypt "continuing attacks on Christians are inevitable."

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